Who was Joe Long? A look at Four Seasons ex-bass guitarist and NJ hall of famer's life after Covid death at 88

The bass guitarist is the second member of the group to die from Covid-19, but details of his death are not available

                            Who was Joe Long? A look at Four Seasons ex-bass guitarist and NJ hall of famer's life after Covid death at 88
Former Four Seasons member Joe Long died from Covid-19 (Getty Images)

Bass guitarist and New Jersey Hall of Famer Joe Long died due to Covid-19 on April 21. Long, whose real name is Joe LaBracio, was best known as a member of The Four Seasons, a rock band that shot to fame in the '60s and '70s. Details of his death are not available, with only a brief announcement being made by bandmate Frankie Valli on Facebook.

Valli released a joint statement with Bob Gaudio, the only two surviving members of The Four Seasons. They said, "It is with great sadness that we learned that our dear bandmate, Joe Long, has passed away. We send our deepest condolences to his family, friends, and fans. We will miss Joe." At the time of writing this article, the post amassed over 7000 reactions and 13,000 comments. Long enjoyed substantial fame with The Four Seasons, of which he was a part of between 1965 and 1975. Here's the story of one of rock 'n roll's most valued members, who helped American bands thrive during the British invasion.

Joe Long during a performance with The Four Seasons (Frankie Valli via Facebook)

Who is Joe Long?

Long was born in September 1941 in Elizabeth, New Jersey. He was a lifelong NJ resident and reportedly died in the city as well. As a child, he played the accordion before eventually parting ways with music for a brief period. At 14, he suffered an accident that made his left hand "pretty useless". He told Jersey Boys Blog (JBB), "about 2½ years of rehab, I rekindled my interest in music and became a self-taught bass player. Although I'm not really left-handed, I played left-handed because of the injury."

He then began studying with Alfonse Strazza, the principal bassist for the New York Philharmonic. "I originally wanted to pursue a career in the concert field. I also began playing a lot of jazz. Because my hand lacked the strength to play classical music, I switched to the Fender bass-guitar and began playing rock," he told JBB. He then turned to rock full time, playing with several local bands and even touring the country. 

In 1965, after Nick Massi dropped out, Long auditioned to replace him. He got the gig after playing the bass upside-down since the audition venue didn't have a left-handed instrument. "I was in the right place at the right time," he told NJ Advance Media. His first recording with the group was Opus 17. Although he is only mentioned briefly in the hit Four Seasons jukebox musical, 'Jersey Boys', Long contributed to several hits during his time with the band.  

In 1975, he left the band under mysterious circumstances. He cleared the air in a 2004 interview saying, "The new guys like Lee Shapiro, their whole musical idea was very different from mine. I was beginning to feel a lot negativity and a lot of pressure from the other guys anyway by this time. They weren't that happy that I was around." He added, "I don't think I would have stayed much longer with the band anyway because I didn't like the direction the band was taking but the way it was handled I thought was just not proper."

Joe Long, Frankie Valli, Bob Gaudio with Bruce Springsteen (Frankie Valli via Facebook)

After leaving, Long enjoyed a brief career with the rock band LaBracio and the jazz group, Jersey Bounce. He also had a "few recording sessions with Tommy (DeVito)". Otherwise, he retired and went on to live a quiet life in Elizabeth. Long also enjoyed multiple awards and honors in the years since. In 2014, High Street in Elizabeth was renamed Joe Long Way. He was also inducted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame along with The Four Seasons in 2018. “To be honored by your home state is the greatest honor that can be bestowed upon someone,” he said at the ceremony

Long is survived by his wife and two children — Kimberley and Joey.

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